Generation Z: How employers can prepare for this ambitious group of digital natives

Companies around the globe will soon undergo a demographic shift with the first wave of Generation Z entering the workforce alongside Millennials, Gen Xers and the remaining Baby Boomers. Similar to their predecessors, Gen Zers will require their employers and colleagues to understand their distinct needs, skills, and habits.

The post-Millennial generation, born between 1995-2010, is vastly different from previous generations. Unlike Millennials – who are often associated with negative professional Millennial characteristics such as entitlement and apathy – Gen Zers have developed a reputation as hard-working, dedicated and passionate workers.

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As a business expert and someone who has worked with this cohort, I would like to share several insights behind the entrepreneurial mind and drive of Gen Z. Based on my experience, it’s crucial for today’s employers and other business leaders to learn everything they can about this success-oriented generation of workers to remain competitive in the coming years.

Inside the mind of Generation Z

One of the biggest population segments since the Baby Boomer generation, Gen Zers were raised during the Great Recession and the Student Loan Crisis – understandably they are quite conservative with their money. On a similar note, they are hyper-focused on landing stable jobs and establishing lucrative career paths and frequently opt to grow their savings over time than spend money they don’t have in the bank.

Also, their paths to success look very different compared to other generations. For example, Gen Z is much more conservative with money than Millennials as they were raised during a recession and often have relatives that are struggling to pay back student loans. To avoid dealing with their own student debt, many Gen Zers are opting out of the traditional high education route and plunging straight into the workforce, or pursuing more affordable online degrees at their pace.

Regarding their financial future, Gen Z approaches money-related concerns cautiously, taking a cue from the often-extravagant spending behaviors of older generations. Gen Z is also more skeptical about traditional investments that are stock market-related. They tend to select alternatives, such as the gig economy, cryptocurrency or “solopreneuring” – like Uber, Airbnb, and other popular gigs.

Finally, Gen Z’s self-reliance is more about autonomy. It’s in their nature to fend for themselves because they think it’s a safer bet than depending on others. They typically do things for themselves because they are proactive and want to ensure stability for their future. Gen Zers prefer to invest and handle matters themselves with self-directed accounts, create their own jobs in the gig economy, and, mentor or teach others online about what they do (and often make money doing it!).

Preparing for Gen Z

Today, many business leaders are reevaluating fundamental elements of their workplace in an attempt to attract Gen Z employees. They should also focus on understanding how to retain them to remain competitive.

Employers should realize that Gen Z is defined by its competitive nature – they prefer to work independently and be judged on their merits versus those of their colleagues. In fact, many Gen Zers request to have their own office space, rather than work in an open, collaborative workspace. They also have developed a reputation for managing projects so that their personal skills and abilities can shine through.

It’s important for business owners to understand that Gen Zers desire ongoing, constructive feedback and personal face-time with management. They want reassurance that their boss is willing to invest time and effort into their career development. And they’re not simply seeking a pat on the back — they want to face their strengths and shortcomings head-on, and develop ways to evolve and progress. They also look to management as mentors, aiming to establish strong relationships over time.

The bottom line: Today’s employers must adapt quickly. They can start by enabling Gen Zers’ behaviors of self-reliance and entrepreneurship, and supporting their ambition by developing strategies that will allow them to evolve and thrive.

I also recommend reframing traditional approaches – it’s no longer good enough to show them the path to success, but it’s more about creating an environment for Gen Z to forge their own way.

Ultimately, Generation Z is set to take the global business world by storm. If you are an entrepreneur, business owner or industry leader, the time is now to prepare for the competition ahead or risk getting left behind.

Brazilian immigrant Marcos Jacober is an investor, author, international speaker, and teacher. He is the CEO of Life Hacks Wealth and the founder of Airbtheboss. Jacober moved to the US in 1998 with only a dream and $100 in his pocket. Against the odds, he achieved the American dream using the gig economy to fuel his success. Father of two beautiful children, Jacober has helped thousands of individuals from different countries start their careers here in the US. His new book Eat This Mr. President was released in 2018.

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